Sometimes, it takes a shared experience to make a city come to life. An afternoon swapping strawberries and stories can transform a sun-dappled garden from tranquil to sublime and an evening of cheese and champagne on a secret beach show us that fleeting moments can spark new beginnings.
You don’t have to convince Simon and Natalie Thomas. The couple are the co-founders and owners of the Sydney Picnic Company, a business for whom weaving moments that matter is a stock in trade.
“Basically, we moved to Sydney a few years ago – I was working for a design agency and Simon was working for Simon Johnson, the fine food providores,” offers Natalie.
“Simon’s always been into food – his family has owned restaurants and things and I’d always worked in design for a long time – but neither of us liked our jobs very much. One day, a friend asked us if we could make a picnic, because it was Valentines Day, and so we did. We just grew from there.”
That was three years ago. Since then, the Sydney Picnic Company has garnered a serious following, thanks to picnics that blend exquisite ingredients such as Medjool dates with gorgonzola and slow roasted tomatoes with touches that conjure a certain bygone charm. For instance, each picnic menu is handmade by Natalie and punctuated with flourishes such as the recipient’s favourite flower.
“We source our produce from places such as the Norton Street Grocer and Harris Farm and we keep things simple – when we put together our cheese plate, it depends on what’s looking good on the day. We also include herbs and flowers that we’ve grown and picked ourself,” she says.
Unsurprisingly, Natalie and Simon’s creations have captivated the likes of Cate Blanchett and have added an element of magic to everything from impromptu weekend lunches and housewarmings to weddings and proposals.
“For one guy, we put together a picnic for his first date and a year later he proposed to his girlfriend over one of our picnics. She emailed and thanked us for the part we’ve played in their relationship.”
That might just be the secret to Sydney Picnic Co – the ability to inspire Sydneysiders to slow down and appreciate what’s around them. Or in some cases, what’s in front of them.